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Writer, Movie Producer Wil Haygood to Headline University of Charleston Speaker Series This Fall

Release Date:  Thursday, August 22, 2013

Wil Haygood


Charleston, W.Va. – Washington Post writer, movie producer and author of the new book “The Butler: A Witness to History,” Wil Haygood will kick off the 2013-14 University of Charleston Speaker Series sponsored by Dow Chemical Company Foundation on Tuesday, Sept. 24. UC will host a book signing for Haygood in UC-Charleston's Riggleman Hall’s Rotunda in Charleston, W.Va., from 5-6 p.m., before his discussion in Geary Auditorium at 6:30 p.m.

Haygood’s New York Times best selling book came from an original article he wrote for the Washington Post in 2008 about the life of Eugene Allen, the White House butler who served eight presidents and ignited a nation's imagination through the major motion picture “Lee Daniels' The Butler.” The movie was the country’s top-grossing film last weekend, while the Christian Science Monitor recently proclaimed his book "one of the best political books of our times."

Haygood worked at the Charleston Gazette for two years in the early 1980s. He was principally a copy editor but wrote several dozen feature stories and music and book reviews.

A native of Columbus, Ohio, Haygood has been described as a cultural historian. He is the author of a trio of iconic biographies and a Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Humanities fellow. His “King of Cats: The Life and Times of Adam Clayton Powell Jr.,” told the story of the enigmatic New York congressman and was named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. 

That was followed - after publication of a family memoir - by “In Black and White: The Life of Sammy Davis Jr.,” which was awarded the ASCAP Deems Taylor Music Biography Award, the Zora Neale Hurston-Richard Wright Legacy Award and the Nonfiction Book of the Year Award from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. In 2009, he wrote “Sweet Thunder: The Life and Times of Sugar Ray Robinson,” which told the story of the famed New York pugilist known as much for his prowess in the ring as his elegant style outside of it. 

Each year, the UC Speaker Series brings distinguished speakers and thought-provoking events to Charleston, West Virginia.  Speakers have included astronaut Sally Ride, crusader Erin Brokovich, comedian Dave Barry, White House chef Walter Scheib, TIME Magazine editor Nancy Gibbs, and many others.  The Forum on the Future of Energy in 2010 pitted environmentalist Bobby Kennedy against coal magnate Don Blankenship in a debate watched around the world.

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